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Two Half Inch Gauge Rally 7th August 2016

The National 2½” Gauge Society (Midlands) Rally 2016 at Balleny Green

Sunday 7th August dawned bright and clear at Balleny Green with every prospect of it

being another fine and very warm summers day, and so it proved to be. The site was

looking neat and trim thanks to the efforts of the grounds maintenance crew the day

before and the 2½” gauge rails had been cleaned so that the small locomotives had the

best chance of a decent amount of adhesion. Most importantly, the teapot had been

brought into action by the ladies in the kitchen, and the rolls and cakes were being

stacked up ready for the rush.

The first visitors had already arrived by 10 o’clock and a 2½” gauge Black 5 was first

on the steaming bay being prepared for running. Gradually the number of visitors and

locos increased and the patio areas and steaming bays became hives of activity and


Of particular interest this year was the appearance of the original 4-4-2 loco Ayesha

designed and built by Lillian “Curly” Lawrence (who wrote under the pen name of


Until the early 1920’s, model locomotives were usually spirit-fired with boilers being

of either the pot or water-tube type. LBSC contended that small locomotives should

be built having coal-fired, superheated, fire-tube type boilers as had become normal in

full-size practice. LBSC’s contention caused much debate with Henry Greenly and

W.J Basset-Lowke who were the prominent designers at that time.

In 1922 this debate culminated in LBSC demonstrating his coal-fired, fire-tube loco

Ayesha against a similar sized spirit-fired loco of the time. Ayesha proved to be far

superior in terms of steaming ability and power, and proved to be quite capable of

hauling real passengers. As a result LBSC was invited to write an article for Model

Engineer magazine describing its construction.

In 1924 a further challenge was held between LBSC’s Ayesha and a Basset-Lowke

spirit-fired loco. This challenge, now referred to as the “Battle of the Boilers”,

vindicated the superiority of LBSC’s design. The outcome however did lead to a

lifelong animosity between LBSC and Henry Greenly. Thereafter, LBSC went on to

become a regular contributor to Model Engineer magazine until his death in 1967.

Ayesha is now owned by the National 2½” Gauge Society, and under the

custodianship of John Baguley has been put back into working order (with little more

than a new pressure gauge and a boiler test being required). In June of this year it was

steamed for the first time in 50 years. John brought it along and steamed it at our rally

and clearly demonstrated that it still runs well. Not bad for a loco that is over 90 years


A number of 2½”G locos were on the static display stand adjacent to the clubhouse. I

wonder how many people noticed that the NE Atlantic and the very detailed A1

Tornado were powered by electric motors? power being picked up by studs under the

tenders concealed as part of the water scoop mechanisms.

Whilst all the above action was taking place on the elevated track, a passenger service

was running on the ground level track. This was provided by the club “Hymek” loco

and George Finnemore with his excellently turned out Romulus. Andy Walton also

brought along a fine 7¼” GWR King which unfortunately was unable to run due to

spring damage incurred whilst in transit in its trailer.

Another thoroughly enjoyable day was had by all, so it’s same time, same place again

next year!